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Sewell hopeful Congress will eliminate widow’s tax in this year’s NDAA

Brandon Moseley

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Congresswoman Terri Sewell has been named as a conferee to the National Defense Authorization Act Conference Committee. Sewell said that she is hopeful conferees will include in the bill an elimination of the Military Widow’s Tax, which unfairly taxes military widows and widowers’ survivor benefits.

The NDAA authorizes funding to equip, supply and train U.S. troops and support military families. The NDAA conference committee will work to produce a NDAA resolving differences between the distinct defense authorization bills passed by each chamber in June.

“Included in the House-passed defense authorization bill is also a provision to eliminate the Military Widow’s Tax, which prevents as many as 65,000 surviving military spouses nationwide from receiving their full Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs (VA) survivor benefits,” Sewell said. “Senator (Doug) Jones (D) has been a tireless advocate for the tax’s elimination in the Senate, and I am hopeful we can finally get it across the finish line to ensure our servicemembers’ families receive the benefits they have paid for and earned.”

Under current law, the surviving spouse of a retired member who dies of a service-connected cause, or a service member killed on active duty, is entitled to compensation from the VA. If the military retiree was also enrolled in the Department of Defense’s Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP), the surviving spouse’s SBP benefits are reduced by the amount of their VA compensation. This leaves many widows and widowers with as little as $2,200 of the $3,525 per month they had expected to receive to support their families after their loved one’s passing.

The Military Widow Tax Elimination Act was included in the House-passed version of NDAA. It passed it would repeal the required offset and authorize payment of both SBP and VA benefits in the case of a service-connected death. The Military Widow’s Tax Elimination Act currently has 372 House cosponsors and 75 Senate cosponsors.

“I also look forward to advocating for other priorities for the 7th District and the state of Alabama, including fully funding the F-35 program, ensuring we have all the resources needed to prevent and respond to cyberattacks and improving diversity in military and intelligence recruitment and retention,” Sewell said.
Sewell is optimistic that the conferees will be able to overcome their partisan differences and be able to pass the NDAA.

“The House and Senate have historically put political divisions aside to pass the NDAA, which authorizes our national defense priorities for the year and provides our troops with the resources needed to carry out their missions at home and abroad,” Rep. Sewell said. “I am committed to continuing this tradition and working to exclude any partisan provisions that threaten the defense and wellbeing of our nation. As representative of a state that plays such a major part in our national security, I am honored to be able to play such a significant role as a conferee this year.”

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Late on Tuesday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) named Congresswoman Sewell to serve on the NDAA conference committee.

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“The House and Senate have historically put political divisions aside to pass the NDAA, which authorizes our national defense priorities for the year and provides our troops with the resources needed to carry out their missions at home and abroad,” Rep. Sewell said. “I am committed to continuing this tradition and working to exclude any partisan provisions that threaten the defense and wellbeing of our nation. As representative of a state that plays such a major part in our national security, I am honored to be able to play such a significant role as a conferee this year.”

The NDAA authorizes funding to equip, supply and train U.S. troops and support military families. The NDAA conference committee will work to produce a NDAA resolving differences between the distinct defense authorization bills passed by each chamber in June.

The NDAA has been passed by Congress for 58 continuous years.

Sewell is a senior member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and is Chair of the the Subcommittee on Defense Intelligence and Warfighter Support.

Sewell said that she is committed to continuing this bipartisan tradition of passing a smart defense bill that provides servicemembers with the resources they need to address and counter today’s increasingly complex national security challenges.

Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell is serving in her fifth term representing Alabama’s Seventh Congressional District.

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